Owner Of High-End Wine Storage Facility Pleads Guilty In Federal Court To Embezzling From His Customers
Over Nearly 5 Years, Holder Stole Between $550,000 and $1.5 Million Worth of Customers’ Wine
Baltimore, Maryland – William Lamont Holder, age 54, of Hanover, Maryland, pleaded guilty on May 14, 2019 to a federal wire fraud charge for stealing between $550,000 and $1.5 million of wine from his clients, primarily private collectors and commercial establishments.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Moore of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare.
According to his plea agreement, William Lamont Holder was the sole owner and operator of Safe Harbour Wine Storage, LLC (“Safe Harbour”). Through Safe Harbour, Holder stored and transported upscale wines for private collectors and commercial establishments. In return for a monthly fee, Holder would arrange for the transportation of a customer’s wine to Safe Harbour’s storage facility in Glen Burnie, Maryland, where it would be inventoried and stored. Holder did not possess a license to sell wine in the State of Maryland.
From January 2013 through December 2017, Holder developed a scheme to obtain payments and wine from the customers of Safe Harbour for his own personal financial gain. Unbeknownst to his customers, he offered their wine for sale to wine retailers and brokers around the country, including in Napa, California, all the while continuing to collect the customers’ monthly storage fees and accept additional wine for storage.
Holder represented to potential third-party buyers that he was the lawful owner of the wine that he was offering to sell. By e-mail and facsimile, he sent them lists of bottles of wine stored in his warehouse with detailed descriptions of the winery, vintage, and asking price. After the buyers selected the bottles they wanted to purchase, Holder boxed and shipped the wine, and sent his bank account information. After inspecting the shipment of wine, the buyers would either wire the money directly into Holder’s bank account or send a check. Holder kept the proceeds from the sales and spent it on personal expenses.
Holder and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea agreement, he will be sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for July 31, 2019 at 10:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI, and the Anne Arundel County Police Department for their work in this investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Clarke, who prosecuted the federal case.
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